Digi-Pet: IoT for our best friends
Earlier this month Unisys launched the IoT-based Digi-Pet solution that allows pet owners to monitor the environment of their accompanying animals while they are being transported in the hold of an aircraft.
The system uses Wi-Fi and available mobile networks to exchange sensor data with Unisys software, which then shares this information with an app. The system has been available for a good month in the Asia-Pacific region and is currently still undergoing trials.
The IoT-based pet monitoring app was developed by Dheeraj Kohli, vice president of Unisys. He adopted a puppy four years ago, but hadn’t thought about the challenges he would face when travelling with a pet. When his family had to move by air a few months later, the four-legged family member naturally came along.
However, organising the air transport of his youngest family member proved more difficult than he had expected. To meet the size and weight restrictions imposed by the airline on a dog, Kohli had to travel with the puppy before he became even bigger – which meant moving two months earlier and living and working temporarily in an animal-friendly hotel.
At that time Kohli thought that travelling for pets should be easier. Since then, there have again been numerous cases of pets being injured or even dying during transport. So he began to think about IoT-based solutions and received the support of Unisys to develop an appropriate solution. The result: Digi-Pet.
The hardware requirements are minimal. Animal owners only need a kennel (transport box) for their animal, to which a Digi-Pet sensor (issued by the airline) is connected. The sensors are manufactured by third parties according to Unisys specifications. Of course, a SmartPhone is also required to receive and display the sensor data.
The Digi-Pet system is configurable. The user can choose from a variety of sensors to track the animal’s journey. It has GPS, can monitor temperature and humidity and can also detect shocks caused by rough handling, falls or turbulence during flight. It also has a camera so that an animal owner can see his companion in the kennel in real time.
The sensor data is sent to the Digi-Pet software at regular intervals via Wi-Fi or mobile radio. This forwards the information to the server so that the user can use it on an Android- or iOS-based device. If the sensor data have exceeded or fallen below acceptable parameters, e.g. if an animal is exposed to too high or too low temperatures, the owner receives a warning on the app. The airline also receives this information.
However, until flights allow wireless communication on board, pet owners cannot access the data while an aircraft is in the air. Instead, the data is collected throughout the flight so that the recorded conditions can be accessed after the aircraft lands.
By tracking the conditions and location of an animal at an airport, the system will hopefully lead to airport and airline staff acting more prudently – and treating the kennels/transport boxes with greater care.